Over the last few weeks I have made some serious changes to my lifestyle to both get healthier and make sure I am in the proper shape to handle a growing toddler. Granted I have gone quite hardcore by starting P90X (a completely nuts workout with a proper diet) as well as cutting out some of my favorite calorie filled vices, I wanted to offer some suggestions for making life better for yourself and be the best feeling geek you can. So put away the Doritos, pour out that Mountain Dew, no more Monsters, NOS or Red Bull and see what I am doing to change my life and be sure I am still around and gaming in my 90’s.
My first step was cutting out soda. I was only drinking diet and trying to sneak in some caffeine free but cutting it out completely has made a BIG difference in my daily well-being. I additionally cut out most coffee and any other drinks that offered caffeine or stimulants but I am still sneaking a few a week. I don’t use sugar or cream and often drink it chilled but will occasionally cut it with some almond milk. The first 7 days were hard. REAL hard. There were headaches and days I almost fell asleep at my desk, but the reward is worth it. Once I got past that initial hurdle I began just feeling better throughout my day. I started just waking up earlier without an alarm. I sleep better. I didn’t ever crash during the day. I just feel better.
Second I began exercising in earnest, at least 6 days a week. I had been walking off and on for over a year but I wasn’t really losing much weight, despite frequently walking 20 or 30 city blocks at lunch. That’s when a friend and fellow gamer (longtime WoW guild member and leader) turned me on to P90X. I had seen some real life results from the program which were stunning and knew that if I was going to be ultra serious, this was what I needed to do. I can say that after 2 weeks I have already lost several pounds of fat, I have lost almost 1.5 inches from my waist and have already begun developing real visible muscle. My growing son is already feeling lighter and chasing him around is growing less of a chore and a lot more fun. I am not saying you need to do this specific workout, as it is hard and intense and it’s 6 or 7 days a week which is a major commitment. There are other workout routines which can go a long way. To be fair, the initial walking did help me, it just didn’t meet my personal goals. But what is critical is the third piece of my health makeover, diet.
I made some HUGE diet changes. The particular exercise program I chose includes a nutrition program which I am following pretty closely and I can tell it is helping with my cardio and weight loss. I am not eating a grapefruit, cottage cheese or a plain baked potato at every meal but I am making a concerted effort to cut out fats, white pasta and white bread. I am by no means hitting this 7 days a week, but I am trying my damnedest at every meal. I am going pretty hardcore in that I drink a meal replacement shake for my lunch, but honestly, any hard workout program recommends that anyway and it is costing me about 3.50 a day for the entire month. You couldn’t even eat fast food for that amount, especially in Center City Philadelphia where I work. It’s also helping me to eat normal (smaller) portions as opposed to the “American Portions” at most restaurants or fast food chains. And to top it off, I am saving a great deal of money by bringing my lunch and snacks to work.
To bring the geekery full circle I also downloaded and installed the MyFitnessPal app on my phone. I allows you to set weight loss goals, define your daily routines and then track everything you eat to see how your calorie intake stacks up to what you should be taking in. It has a massive database of entries to pick from so that most food you want to add to your day is already populated with a proper calorie count. Additionally, it has a barcode scanner so any item with a bar code can be scanned and then you can adjust the serving size for the amount you are eating. Entering each item can be eye opening as you begin to consciously think about portions vs. calories at each meal. Then when you start tracking snacks and drinks, you become painfully aware of how easy it is to rack up a lot of calories in a day that will never get burned.
Why?!?!?! WHY WHY WHY?!?!? All that stuff is delicious and exercise is hard and eats into my gaming time!!! I feel totally different and I feel great. I don’t feel run down in the afternoon and I am more focused. I am sleeping better and have the energy to do all the fun geek things I enjoy. I have more energy to squeeze in some extra gaming as well as finding it easier to concentrate and keep my thoughts organized for writing and reading about gaming.
I urge you to consider joining me in living a healthier life. Sure I am going to have a burger, doritos or other ‘treats’ now and then, but if I make them treats and otherwise stick to my current regimen, I am not only going to be healthier, I am going to be in great shape to play with my son and have the energy to spend time with him and still have plenty of energy and time left to geek out. If you have questions or want any additional information you can find me on twitter, facebook or google+, just search for Matt Swenk.
To learn more about P90X, meal replacements like Shakeology or other workouts which might be more approachable, visit www.beachbody.com .
MyFitnessPal can be downloaded for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone at http://www.myfitnesspal.com/mobile .
Editor’s note: Live Geek or Die does not actively endorse these products, they are simply the ones Matt is using to achieve his goals.